How To Protect Maternal Mental Health During COVID-19

With the outbreak of the pandemic, it’s not just the physical health of individuals that’s at stake. Given the unprecedented challenges that individuals and families now face, the whole well-being of a person has become more fragile.

Many have lost jobs. Those that have jobs had to adjust to a new working environment from home. While this may sound advantageous to some, for many this is a disadvantage. One of the most affected demographic is the mothers. The mental load is overwhelmingly exhausting. And with lockdown and closures, they can’t leave the house and have a rest from the mental stress at home.

Apart from the jobs that mothers now do at home, they also carry with them concerns over their family’s safety. These mothers are daughters themselves and it’s hard for them to not see their parents and siblings often. Because all the family members stay at home, moms have a lot more household chores to do. She does more cooking and cleaning than before. She has a longer list of household chores.

Mental Health Is Important

Moms now have the added responsibility of protecting their family against the threats of the virus. While they may be stronger to fight viral attacks than their little ones, she still does need to have time for herself and take care of her mental well-being. But her natural instinct is to put herself at the bottom of their priority list. So, it’s not surprising that her mental and emotional health may suffer.

If you feel this speaks to you, take comfort. There’s always a new way to see that light at the end of the tunnel. This article seeks to help you by presenting to you some tips on what you can do to protect your mental health.

Create A Routine

Routines aren’t bad. In fact, these are helpful in keeping the household orderly. If you have young kids who still need so much of your help every day, having a routine can help put everything in perspective. It sets your day and it gives everyone a schedule to adhere to.

Now that the schools and some of the offices are still closed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at home. The house is messier because the kids are at home. You see all the things that you have to do and the chores you have to finish magnified. But like how you’ve set a good routine when the kids were at school, this can also be done even now that they’re learning from home.

Creating a routine doesn’t mean that every minute of the day is scheduled rigidly. It simply means having the dedicated, fixed time for the essentials: work, school, play, cleaning, and eating. In that way, you’ll find that there’s really time to get things done. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

If you struggle with creating a routine, here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Set a school day schedule 

One task added to a parent’s workload is homeschooling. It can get out of hand if you don’t have a set schedule for it. The deadlines will pile up. But homeschooling can work effectively and efficiently if you make it into a routine. Try to allot a schedule for it and follow it every day. You can align your homeschooling schedule with the schedule your kids had on a regular school day pre-COVID.

Once the homeschooling session is done for the day and they don’t need your help with homework, then you will have time to take care of other stuff like work or chores. 

  • Schedule at least once a day to go outdoors

Give yourself a breather. You can take a walk outside with the kids. No, you can’t go to a restaurant or a mall, but breathing in the fresh air while in your yard can help you relax. 

  • Set scheduled meals and snack times 

One of the hardest parts of the lockdown for moms is the constant meal preparations. When you have many kids at home, the snack preparations can be crazy. This doesn’t include just the cooking, but also the cleaning up.

To avoid this, set a fixed time for meals. In that way, you won’t have to constantly wash the dishes and clean up—chores that usually eat up so much of a homemaker’s time.

Minimize Reading Everything About The Pandemic

It helps to be informed. But too much information is exhausting. Do you really need to be updated multiple times a day about how many COVID-19 cases get added to your local town’s list? 

You can choose what you feed your mind. And if you can, keep this information as positive as possible. Focus only on relevant and reliable news. If you have to contact medical professionals, limit it to your family doctor for now. You can check sites that give you in-depth knowledge about the standard of care a family needs. They can help you and your family with your physical and mental health concerns. You can also limit your news topics to only vaccine updates and restriction guidelines.

As long as you already know the basics of how to protect your family, then it’s safe to say you’re covered. You’re safe and indoors. You don’t need to monitor every news. Bad news may start to make you worry and anxious.

Start A Home Exercise Routine

Some moms have made it a part of their ‘me time’ to exercise at the gym. They get to talk to fellow adults and give themselves a breather from house responsibilities. But now that access to gyms is quite limited, you have to stick with doing workouts at home.

No matter how busy your day may get, just have a daily exercise routine. You can even do this with your children. If they don’t want to join in and your kids are already old enough to have screen time, you can exercise while they have that half-hour TV break, or when they’re playing among themselves.

Exercise is so important now more than ever because it hits two birds with one stone. Your physical health improves and so does your mental well-being.

If you haven’t started with an exercise routine yet, here are some tips that’ll come in handy:

  • Start with the fitness level you have

You don’t need to push yourself and do difficult workout routines. Just take it easy on yourself.

  • Listen to your body 

If you’re a beginner, you can start with 20 minutes a day. Physical activity of 30 minutes every day is enough to keep your health in check.

  • Make your expectations realistic

The online video that tells you you’re going to shed five pounds in seven days will most probably not work. If your expectations are too high, you may become frustrated if you fail. For example, you might feel bad if you can’t get through a certain exercise routine because it’s still too hard for you. Don’t set your expectations too high, so you won’t end up frustrated. 

Apart from keeping your physical health in good condition, there are other benefits that exercise can bring to your mental health. These include:

  • Enhancing your well-being through its release of good hormones throughout your body
  • Helping your muscles relax, thereby releasing any tension and stress
  • Reversing stress damage through the stimulation of hormones like norepinephrine

Make A Budget

Another stressor faced by mothers has to do with budgeting. Staying at home because of the pandemic is expensive. First, there are family members who may have reduced earning capacity (for instance, one of two working parents has lost their job). Also, utility consumption (for example, electricity, water, heating, and others) increases significantly when everyone in the family is home all the time. 

A good way to reduce the mental load brought on by financial stressors is to have a financial plan or budget, and stick to it. Because the pandemic has put more stress on your finances, it’s important now more than ever to learn how to create a budget.

With that in mind, here’s how you can successfully come up with one:

  • Determine what you owe

You can focus your expenses on paying off these debts first, before adding more bills.

  • Have a budget for every payable

This is so that each of these is accounted for in your monthly budget plan.

  • Pay more than the minimum due amount

This will help you gradually pay off your credit card debts faster.

  • Put in an amount for savings

No matter how little you put aside for savings habitually, it’s still better than having no savings at all.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, don’t be too hard on yourself. Choose your battles. For example, if the living room is a mess but the kids are well-fed, then that’s good. If you can win in just one aspect of your life today, then that’s a win in itself. 

Give yourself credit. Know that you can’t do everything all at once. If you feel you need that break, then give yourself time. Breathe and relax. You deserve it. Remember it’s not selfish to take good care of your mental health. When you’re happy, your family stays happy as well.

Julie
Author
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